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Honeybee Swarms On The Rise As CoastHills Board Member And Local Beekeepers Keep pace with Calls

by Joshua D. Scroggin
October 15, 2019
An index card with four facts about honeybees.

CoastHills members didn’t know who to call when they saw a giant clump of bees blocking their path from the post office to the Credit Union’s entry door on Vandenberg Air Force Base.

“They couldn’t even walk through without the fear of being stung,” said member services officer Marshall Stevens.

That’s when CoastHills branch staff reached out to the Lompoc Valley Beekeepers Association. Representatives from the Association — an all-volunteer organization of local bee hobbyists — arrived later that day to relocate the bees to a place where they could freely pollinate without threatening people.

CoastHills Board Member Kate GriffithIt’s become a common tale for the Association this year. Coincidentally, CoastHills board member Kate Griffith is also a founding member of the Beekeepers, and she said the group has received hundreds of calls for bee relocation this year alone, presenting a sizeable increase over previous years.

Wet conditions this year have caused a surge in water, growth of foraging for bees, and Kate credited the Association’s efforts for a due portion of that proliferation as well. Especially in a region that grows many berries, orchards and row crops, bees are essential for pollination of many types of produce.  

Worldwide, bee populations have been trending dangerously downward, causing much alarm surrounding food security.

“We have been doing our job,” Kate said. “That’s part of the reason why there are so many calls for bee removal in Lompoc. We’ve embraced bees in this part of the county. If you’re in another area where you don’t have that coordinated effort, it might not be the same.

“We’ve had a great year, but that’s not to say next year will be the same, especially if people use glyphosate or other toxic chemicals.”

Many pesticides and weed killers are being credited for the collapse of bee colonies, such as in Brazil, where half a billion bees recently disappeared in just three months. And that’s in addition to mites, draught conditions and other unexplained diseases affecting bees.

“Be mindful of the chemicals you are spraying whether they are pesticides or herbicides,” Kate said. “Don’t use systemic rose and flower care. People want the quick and easy, but he systemics put poison into the plant, the bees go and enjoy the pollen in the rose and then boom.”

The Beekeepers are not only answering emergency calls directly from citizens. They also support police and fire agencies referring calls they receive from the public. The Association is also working to spread awareness of bees and how important they are to the agriculture in our region and food security for the entire planet.

Representatives have done traveling presentations of demonstration hives at local schools and parks. The group is also welcoming to novice bee hobbyists looking to grow their expertise. Dues are $10 a year and cover your entire household. To learn more, to schedule a presentation or to report a bee swarm, please visit lvbka.org.  

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